MISSOULA — Missoula Big Sky's Whitney Morrison started off her sophomore track and field campaign with a bang.
The multi-discipline athlete won three of her events (200-meter dash, triple jump and javelin) and placed second in the other (long jump). She also hit her state qualifying marks in both the long jump and the triple jump.
"Whitney Morrison had a big day with qualifying in both jumps and winning the triple jump and the 200 and the javelin," Big Sky coach Dan Nile said. "It was a big day for her."
Morrison's triple jump leap of 36 feet, 1 inch is currently second in the state and her long jump outing was a personal best mark of 16 feet, 9½ inches.
Nile was also impressed with the performances of Joylynn Glidewell, another Big Sky sprinter.
Glidewell, a sophomore, took home the first place finish in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.40. She also won the 300-meter hurdles in her first-ever attempt in the event at a meet.
"Joylynn Glidewell had a nice day, winning the 100 and her first time ever running the 300 hurdles was pretty good."
Glidewell's 300-meter hurdle time of 50.50 is the fourth-fastest time in the state so far this season and is just 2½ seconds short of reaching the Class AA automatic time to qualify for state.
Big Sky's Brooke Kearns, the defending state champion in the discus, won the shot put — and qualified for state — with a throw of 38 feet, 9¾ inches. She's currently second in the state right now with that personal best mark.
Morrison, Glidewell and Kearns weren't the only Eagles soaring to start the season.
Junior distance runner Madison Edwards won the 1,600-meter run in a personal best time of 5:22.27 to automatically qualify for state. And her sister, fellow junior distance runner Makenna Edwards, placed second and was just a second short of making her state cut as well.
On the boys' side, senior Hunter Dutton took home two wins of his own in the 200-meter dash and the discus.
By the meet's end, 12 Big Sky girls and five boys won their respective events.
But the winning aspect wasn't the only thing Nile was pleased with.
"For a starting meet, it was really a good one," he said. "One cool thing is we have a ton of kids out. We have 150 kids out. That's a big number. They all get an opportunity to participate and gets some marks and start to build on it."
Nile added that in his 17 years of coaching, 150 athletes was "maybe the highest" he's had, or it's at least close to that.
OTHER STATE QUALIFIERS
All in all, there were seven state qualifying performances on Wednesday, including the marks from the Big Sky athletes.
Butte Central Catholic's Lindsay McGree won the long jump and qualified for state with a mark of 16 feet, 11½ inches.
There were a few qualifiers on the boys' side too, including Butte's Ty Peterson in the high jump and Butte Central Catholic's Aaron Richards in the shot put.
Peterson's mark of 14 feet, 3 inches in the pole vault currently leads the state. And Richards' throw of 46 feet, 9½ inches is currently sixth in the state.